September 13, 2023 | Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti | Kevner Sineus and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Haiti recently distributed hundreds of water purification filters and hygiene kits to more than 700 families amid a resurgence of cholera throughout the country.  The distribution efforts spanned across the west, southeast, and Nippes departments as well as specific sites where displaced families are staying throughout the metropolitan city of Port-au-Prince, ADRA Haiti officials said.

ADRA Haiti official marks off the recipient of a water purification kit to one of dozens of families that received on in the Nippes Department in Haiti during a recent resurgence of cholera in some areas in the country. More than 700 families received water purification kit as well as hygiene kits during July and August this year in efforts to help prevent disease from unclean drinking water in vulnerable communities. [Photo: ADRA Haiti]

“After conducting a thorough assessment of the needs concerning a resurgence of cholera in some areas of Haiti, it became evident that many households were severely affected due to lack of access to clean drinking water,” said Myrlaine Jean Pierre, ADRA Haiti country director. The water purification kits and hygiene kits which included buckets, filters, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and soap were distributed during the months of July and August thanks to a partnership with UNICEF and Global Medic, she said.

The distribution that benefitted 720 families also included families and individuals displaced from their homes due to the escalating violence caused by gang violence, said Jean Pierre.  “The ADRA effort is playing a vital role in strengthening access to basic services, particularly clean drinking water, which is a key element in preventing the spread of cholera,” she said.

A group of women in Nippes, Haiti listens to instructions on the importance of water purification bucket kits at a church during the Aug. 26, 2023, distribution by ADRA Haiti. Global Medic and UNICEF have partnered with ADRA Haiti for the efforts. [Photo: ADRA Haiti]

Need for drinking water

In Nippes, dozens of families received water purification and hygiene kits during a distribution effort on Aug. 29, 2023.

“The absence of latrines in most houses forces people to defecate in the open, which consequently causes the contamination of springs which are their main source of water,” said Norzé Dieuné, Nippes’ emergency manager. “The kit is very easy to use and once it is purified by the filter, the water can be used several days without a problem,” he said. Most of the water pipes were destroyed due to the construction of a road by the Petite Riviere, Dieuné said.

Community Leader for Women Advocacy Lili Zéphirin (left) checks the water purification system with ADRA Haiti officials moments before they are distributed. [Photo: ADRA Haiti]

Nippes Community Leader for Women Advocacy Lili Zéphirin, thanked ADRA for its commitment in assisting dozens of families in the department. “These materials will serve so many families who are faced with serious drinking water issues,” she said. “Generally, people use the water from the river for drinking, and unfortunately, because of contamination, it causes intestinal diseases,” Zéphirin said.

“I thank ADRA for this important took that was given for my family,” said Rita Hector, a mother of five who was happy to receive the filter and hygiene kits. “In the past, I had to buy water because I cannot drink well water, so this will help.”

An ADRA kit recipient stands in front of the group with ADRA HAiti volunteers in Nippes, Haiti. [Photo: ADRA Haiti]

Gesler John from the Charlier Community thanked ADRA for the filters and the kits. “The water is usually contaminated when it rains and many of us have to dig in the ground to find something to drink, but these filters will help us,” he said.

Assisting displaced families

ADRA moved quickly to distribute water purification filters and hygiene kits at the Vertières Adventist School in Carrefour-Feuilles, where 74 families were taking shelter after fleeing their homes which had been burned by armed men.

ADRA Haiti leaders and volunteers hand over a water purification kit  on Aug. 31, 2023, to one of dozens of family members displaced from the gang violence in their homes, while taking shelter at the Vertières Adventist School in Carrefour-Feuilles, on Aug. 31, 2023.  [Photo: ADRA Haiti]

“We are doing this first intervention allowing these families to have drinking water and hygiene items,” said Carlin Louis, ADRA Haiti’s local emergency manager. “The situation is one of sadness and anguish to see how these people had to leave their homes, leaving everything behind and no longer have anything to survive on,” said Louis. “It’s very sad.”

Mireille David, who is blind, was saved by a friend. “I would have been burned to death inside my home if it had not been for a friend who took my hand to help escape,” said Ms. David.

ADRA Haiti leaders and volunteers demonstrate the importance of using the hygiene kits properly to families taking shelter at the Vertières Adventist School in Carrefour-Feuilles, during the distribution of kits to the 74 families there. [Photo: ADRA Haiti]

Marie Adeline Fenelon, a mother of four, is also taking shelter at the Adventist school. She remembers how fast she had to flee her home. “The violence we suffered was terrible. It is simply God who saved us, otherwise, we wouldn’t be here,” said Fenelon, who also thanked ADRA.

ADRA Haiti will continue to monitor regional areas to ensure some of the most desperate needs are met throughout communities needing aid, said Willy Lima, PhD., ADRA Haiti programs director and programs manager. “We are proud of the dedicated team, volunteers and partners who took part in this crucial work ADRA has undertaken in Nippes, Sud-Est, Ouest, and in displacement sites within the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, to have made this initiative a success,” said Lima. “Their commitment to our mission of serving humanity with love and compassion is truly inspiring.”

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